Caps chase Halak, beat Canadiens

It might seem like a crazy overstatement to say a team with the possibility of tieing a series with a victory in Game 4 is done like a smoked meat sandwich at 3 a.m. (extra fat, please), but the rye bread and the Washington Capitals look like they’re squeezing the Montreal Canadiens.

Pass the napkins, please.

Stranger things have happened, but after chasing Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak from the net with three goals on four shots in the second period of their 5-1 win Monday night, the Caps look like a team suddenly sure of itself.

There is the unmistakable vibe of the Canadiens being on the run now and the Caps firmly in control of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal. They’re up just 2-1, but are looking like the opening night skittishness that marked their overtime loss to the Habs is now nothing but an old memory.

And the Caps haven’t even scored a power-play goal yet in this series (0-for-14 so far).

That’s the way Capitals defenceman Mike Green sees it, even if his coach did not.

“That’s the type of efforts we need to win. When everyone plays like that – they don’t have much out there. Really, they don’t,” he said of the Habs to a Washington reporter.

“There’s no reason for us to have swagger. We’ve won two games and you’ve got to win four. Then you’ve got to win 12 more after that so there’s a lot of room for concern,” said Bruce Boudreau, who, when he’s not throwing water on playoff momentum theories, coaches the Capitals.

Goaltending was going to be a big question mark in this series, but like this?

There have now been more goaltenders (four) than there have been games (three).

47 Responses to Caps chase Halak, beat Canadiens

  1. nordiques100 says:

    for the caps, if varlamov falters, do they turn back to theo or turn to Neuvirth?

    For the Habs, got to go to Price. They've alternated goalies all year. Maybe its his time. It would be a huge turning point in his career if he can step in and do something magical which he is surely capable of.

    This isnt a knock on Halak. its just a luxury the Habs have and should use. Maybe later in the playoffs Halak gets back in.

    We saw that with the Canes in using both Weekes and Irbe and getting to the finals that way. its not unprecedented.

  2. leafy says:

    Good points, could be time to give Price a shot.  But the Habs look a bit over-matched.

    Before the playoffs, I predicted the only team in the East that can beat Washington is Pittsburgh. I still believe that.

  3. reinjosh says:

    I agree completely that Price needs to play. It could be a turning point in his career and the series. His price would sky rocket on the trade market and he would likely get that confidence back.

  4. jpmac says:
    The Toronto Sun should stick to writing one sided stories about the Maple Leafs.  

    Granted the Habs lost, and did play good…in the second period.  They controlled the play in the first, and the third was a toss up.  If the habs tighten up their goaltending, there is no reason they cannot win.  By no means am I saying they WILL win, but they are playing decent hockey.
    This just oozes hatred from a Toronto-centric paper ripping the Habs, hoping they will falter.   Don't count your chickens just yet.
  5. reinjosh says:

    The Toronto Sun should just stick to not writing hockey stories period. haha.

    But they do have a point. Montreal played far below the level Washington did. They were so inferior last night, it wasn't funny. Gomez needs to stop taking stupid penalties.

    They have had their moments though. Spacek has played amazingly so far. The Andre Kostitsyn hat trick on Saturday (overshadowed by Backstroms). They need a lot of things to go right for them for them to win.

  6. Leafs_Forever says:

    I totally agree.  They have to go with Price for game 4.  He has to be given a chance to prove what he can do.  I don't blame Halak at all for these loses.  He has been pretty solid.  But If Montreal is going to win this series, one of these guys is going to have to stand on his head…

  7. DandoEagle says:

    For what its wurth you need to go with Price for the next game I mean yes this our lord and saver Jesus price that we are talking about but c’mon Halak looked like he was playing for the Loafs last night while Price pretty well looked like the next coming of Andre Racicot around 93 – meanwhile Price has the poteshal of being Roy in 86 or 93 – this is his career ridign on the line and he has in the passed tookin his play to the next level and won games, series and Calder Cups on his own!And my Sens are going to even the series tonite! Take that check to the bank and cash it!

  8. jpmac says:

    Haha thats a good point.

    I wouldn't go as far to say they played below the Caps.  The first period was all Habs, but the second period they slackened off, and bang 4 goals.  If they play a full 60 minutes, I honestly believe they can play with the Caps.  A lot has to go right, but I don;t think it is as far fetched as people think.  Maybe I have blinders on.
    Spacek has played great, he has neutralized the Oveckin a certain extent.  Even though the first goal was 100% his fault.  He slid right into Halak.  
    I would love to see Price step it up, like he has done in pressure situations before, granted not in the NHL.  They also need to get tons more traffic in front of Varlamov, or the series will be over in 5.
  9. jpmac says:

    I really like Price's poteshal as well.

  10. leafy says:

    I missed the first period, but it's interesting to hear the Habs played well to start the game. 

    Those penalties were terrible though. You can't expect to beat the Caps by taking foolish penalties. That's how Washington thrives…they feed off the PP and opportunistic rushes.

    Game 4 is key.

  11. Kramer says:

    The Habs should make a trade.

  12. jpmac says:

    The first period was great. 

    The penalties were terrible.  You can only play with fire so many times before you get burned. 
    I have been pretty impressed with Gomez, he looks and is playing like he wants to win.  That can be hard for him to do sometimes.  
    Game 4 is always key.  I hope they start Price.  I feel bad for Halak.  In the last two games, he was hit on numerous occasions right before the Capitals would score.  Sadly, it has been more Montreal, not Washington, players hitting him.  
  13. Magleaf says:

    Sens sure werent happy tonight, they gave up way to early.

    All they wanted to do was hurt people at the end there, reeal classy boys

    hopefully they can grow up for the next game , although the sens are the only canadian team i dont want to win, pens are my 2nd fav team

  14. leafy says:

    You think exactly like me. I try to root for Canadian teams in the playoffs, but in the case of Ottawa, I can't quite do it.  Too much lingering resentment from past playoff wars between the Sens and Leafs. Man I miss those days.

  15. leafy says:

    New Jersey is on the brink. They have been outclassed in this series.

    Philly's got a good team. Big, strong, and fast.  Usually a winning combination.

  16. cam7777 says:

    It's true.  I just want to point out, that I said this would happen to Philly right from the get go.  Shitty regular season where Pronger's presence alone would make them the most penalized team in the league, followed by a strong post-season push once Pronger gets on his horse and the referees ease up on the whistles.

  17. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I think Washington can match it…Belanger and Chimera have been very phsycical. Not to mention Bradley or Gordon or Fehr…

    I think the four guys that need to step up in that series and the playoffs is Green, Semin, Fleischmann, and Laich. They haven't beeen very good

  18. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Toronto Maple Leafs prospects system is ranked 6th out of 30 on hockey futures…A huge jump for the franchise who just two years were at 21st…

    Montreal who once was at number 2…is continuosly declining as there have been many busts for the franchise

  19. cam7777 says:

    And they didn't even update some of the progress made by our lower prospects on that list.  DiDomenico doesn't crack the top 10, and he leads the QMJHL in playoff points – they also say he needs to put on weight, but he is already about 200 pounds after training all year with the Leafs.  The guy is going to be good. 

    Likewise, Jesse Blacker hasn't put up amazing numbers, but he's been pegged by scouts as a definite top 4 guy.  He seems to have all the skills to develop in the same vein as someone like Shea Weber – that is to say, he seems to improve monumentally every year.  He could easily have a higher ranking if they'd bother to investigate him.

    Luca Caputi doesn't make our top 20 in their rankings, but was one of Pittsburgh's top prospects?  I don't get that.  The guy is almost a lock to be a 3rd line net-crashing winger with some skill, but loads of heart.  He's going to be a fan favorite in Toronto for a long time once he finishes growing up and bulking up.

  20. TheLeafNation91 says:

    That was the organizational rankings cam. They usually put the player rankings for prospects before the actual organizational ones to get a feel for prospects for each organizational.

    The actual prospect rankings for ths spring season were done on february 17th for the Leafs, which means that Luca Caputi was still apart of the Penguins. The Phaenuf trade happened before that so thats why Aulie was in.

    Since Caputi switched teams and they don't readjust rankings to next update time…Caputi goes to other notables until they re-do the rankings where he will most likely be in the top 10.


  21. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I think this is a prime example of how well Brian Burke and Cliff Gletcher have kind of re-built this organization from the dreadul hope of a few years back when JFJ was fired.

    Though Burke did trade the firsts, he has done a really great job as GM

  22. cam7777 says:

    ahh, makes sense then. 

  23. cam7777 says:

    So what happens to the Sharks after they blow this series without a single goal from Marleau, Thornton or Heatley?  Will they pin it on Heatley's injury, or will Doug Wilson finally break apart his team and start getting younger, and hungrier?

    The bad thing about potentially making enormous moves, is that Heatley and Thornton both have no trade clauses, and would likely want to be traded together.  Heatley only waived in the first place so that he could be next to Jumbo Joe.  Even if you convince just Joe to waive, does that mean Heatley will be a ***** and publically request another trade, and then force the team to trade him to whoever he pleases?

    Furthermore, letting Marleau go doesn't really help you.  What are you gonna get for his rights?  A 3rd?  Maybe.  That's a terrible return for your captain of 10 years, who just came off a 40 + goal season.  Like wow, a real storm could be brewing in San Jose if these guys can't get it done against one of the youngest teams in the league.

  24. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I hope the Leafs dont get Marleau. He is a playoff dissapearing act.  My idea and support of Pavelski is growing more each day

  25. Magleaf says:

    i dont really understand how our prospect pool can be so high.

    caputi plays for the team, he's not a prospect he's a player.

    a lot of our prospects became players this year o im thinking we should be lower

    even if we have a few people in lower leagues that look promising.

  26. broc says:

    I don't get why the Leafs prospects are ranked so high either.

    Gustavsson, Bozak and probably Stalberg are pretty well NHL'ers now and will all by Leafs next year. Gunnarson likely too.

    That leaves the Leafs with a top 5 of:

    – Kadri (might make the big club)
    – Caputi (fairly skilled, lanky, needs to fill out)
    – Keith Aulie (huge, shutdown D)
    – Jimmy Hayes (huge power forward still developing)
    – Jerry D'Amigo (small but has surprised everyone with both his World Juniors performance and his rookie NCAA season has been great)

    The best goalie in the system for the Leafs is James Reimer?
    The best puck moving D in the Leafs is…. nobody. Mikus maybe, who's on the Marlies..

    Don't get me wrong, there is considerably more depth in the Leafs now than a year ago.. I just don't see much high end talent outside of Kadri. A couple might surprise though (hopefully for Toronto!)

    To me, a team like Edmonton has to be right up there at the top.. but the Leafs are ranked ahead of them? Riley Nash, Eberle, Paajarvi-Svensson, some good D with Chorney, Peckham and Petry.. the only thing they lack is a quality goalie in the system.

    If you don't count Gunnarrson, the Leafs have no legit goalie prospects, zero puck moving defenceman, and few high end forward talent.

  27. nordiques100 says:

    probably mostly to do with their classless fans who throw stuff at the opposing players.

    between them and hab fans booing the US anthem, i think canadian teams are cursed.

  28. nordiques100 says:

    yes they've played with the leafs, but of the kids, only gustavsson, gunnarsson and bozak have firmly established themselves as NHLers.

    depending on who they bring in, the likes of Hanson, Stalberg, Caputi, Irwin will need to fight for jobs on the team.

  29. nordiques100 says:

    i think its the organization depth they speak of. its actually not poor for the leafs in many years.

    Their 1st round picks or equivalents include:

    They have Kadri and Paradis as first rounders in 2009
    They have Schenn as a 1st in 08
    They have Kessel from 2006
    They have Bozak, based on his age, he is like an equivalent to a mid 1st rounder in 2004
    They have Phaneuf from 2003
    They have Komisarek and Sjostrom from the 2001 draft.

    8 1sts in nine drafts. not horrible. While they have no 1sts in the next 2 drafts, they've done ok the last couple of year. but, it wasnt great for them to move those picks.

    Their mid round prospects include Blacker, Didomenico, D'Amigo, Mikus, Reimer, Stefanovich, Ryan, Hayes, Aulie

    Their mid round equivalents on the roster include Mitchell, Caputi, Stalberg, Hanson, Irwin, Grabovski

    Their really good finds have been Gunnarsson, Kulemin and Gustavsson

    They have one of the league's youngest teams.

    keep this in mind too. this is what they had previously as "top prospects"

    Jeremy Williams, John Doherty, Darryl Boyce, Justin Pogge, Rob Earl. It was horrible.

  30. cam7777 says:

    Unfortuneatly, so is his value to the San Jose Sharks.  The Clowe, Pavelski, Setoguchi line has been by far their best.  Could the Sharks resign Marleau, and package Thornton and Heatley together in a trade that restocks the system and leaves them with capspace to spare?  Something like:

    To NYR: Thornton, Heatley
    To SJS: Redden, Dubinsky, Del Zotto, Stepan, 1st in 2010, 1st in 2011

    You gotta think that the value of these two is hurt by the enormous cap hit in taking them both together.  And all the other players here are so cheap, that Sather has to move Redden.  What a deal this would be for both teams:

    Marleau / Pavelski / Setoguchi
    Clowe A / Dubinsky / D.Stepan
    McGinn / Malhotra / Couture
    McLaren / T.Mitchell / __UFA___

    Boyle / Vlasic
    Del Zotto / Murray
    Huskins / Redden

    ___UFA____ / Greiss


    Heatley / Thornton / Gaborik
    Grachev / Anisimov / Kreider
    S.Avery / Drury 'C' / Callahan
    Shelley / B.Prust / A.Voros

    Staal / Girardi
    Gilroy / Sanguinetti
    __UFA___ / ___UFA___

    Lundqvist / Johnson

  31. reinjosh says:

    Granted, the 4th and 5th top prospects (as defined by them) were both drafted by JFJ.

    Everyone gives him a hard time for his time here and for good reason, but he often gets overlooked for a very strong part of his game and reason why he still has a job in San Jose. He has a good eye for talent and made some nice late round picks.

  32. reinjosh says:

    Reimer actually played pretty well for the Marlies this season. 14 wins (24 Games Played), 2.25 GAA, and .925 SVP. All in his rookie season.

    Gunnarson, Stalberg, Bozak, Hanson are all considered prospects still because they are under 24 and have less than 65 games played in the NHL (similar to the rookie thing in the NHL, like how Grabovksi played 24 games in a season, but still had his rookie season after that). Gustavsson hasn't played 45 games yet so he is still considered a prospect.

  33. DannyLeafs says:

    I think the ranking is the way it is because I believe the site has some set definition for what they considered a prospect, and they strictly follow it rather than make judgement calls. The Leafs had a lot of guys that played big roles in their rookie seasons. Stahlberg, Bozak, and Gunnarsson did qualify this year as their rookie year, but just barely. Gustavsson also qualified, but it was also his first year in the NHL so he probably wasn't taken out of prospect pool. Guys like Kulemin and Schenn were taken out of the prospect pool after they made the team this season, despite both being younger than some of the "prospects". So it seems like the rule of thumb is a player is a prospect until they make the team following their qualified rookie season.

    However, this does mean that our prospect rank will like take a pretty sharp drop after training camp next season when it is likely the Bozak, Gunnarsson, Stahlberg and Gustavsson will graduate and no longer be considered prospects, and we won't be replacing them with high picks in this years draft. So, I think you are right in that our ranking is a little inflated at the moment, but it is still impressive considering what we had to start with when JFJ was fired.

  34. reinjosh says:

    Yeah, I can't cheer for them and I can't cheer for Montreal either although I am more indifferent to them because I never experienced a playoff series between them or Toronto.

    I wanted Vancouver to win, but I find myself really liking the way LA is playing and I have started cheering for them.

  35. reinjosh says:

    It has to do with games played in the NHL and age. It will drop but still its quite impressive that its grown this much after only 2 years.

  36. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Pavelski might also be tradeable…Because Logan Couture is coming into the picture

  37. cam7777 says:

    The only way Pavelski is available is if he pulls a Kessel, and holds out for the right team to show interest in him.  Because of San Jose's lack of financial flexibility, he can force himself to be available for a trade.   This is the same for Bobby Ryan and pretty much any high profile RFA.  Basically, they will only leave if they want to leave. 

  38. cam7777 says:

    Burke will probably add Rynnas (already did actually), Cervenka, and a couple others before the draft though, and look to grab a couple 2nd round picks or maybe even a 1st.  This is an interesting draft to have multiple 2nd rounders in, and I really hope Burke can nab a couple.  He should be able to grab one from Chicago for a salary dump, and then it would be nice if they could trade up our two 4th rounders as well.  There's going to be some super high-end talent available there, like Teemu Pulkkinen and Kirill Kabanov.  Both very highly thought of players who have dropped off because of attitude issues.  How many 17 year olds don't have attitude issues?  Burke can straighten them out.

    Would also love to get my hands on Christian Thomas and Jarred Knight.  Get r'Done Burke.

  39. mojo19 says:

    As expected montreal came out flying tonight and put it all on the line, but they couldnt keep that up for too long and eventually the tide shifted. The Habs had a few chances in the third as well once Washington started kind of hanging back to protect the lead, but there was never any doubt that Washington had this game from the beginning.

  40. mojo19 says:

    Joe Thornton to Calgary for Jay Bouwmeester.

    Thornton would be perfect for the Flames for so many reasons, and this trade would drastically change the look of the Sharks, to a degree where they may be suited as contenders again for next year.

    Also Nabakov out and Turco in.

  41. leafy says:

    Pittsburgh and Washington baby. That's going to be a dandy series if/when they meet. Rematch of last year's classic.

    If Chicago can survive Nashville, and that's a big if, I have a feeling Chicago will make the finals and play the Pens or Caps.

  42. mojo19 says:

    I picked Preds in my pool so gotta cheer for Nashville.

    I actually think of Nashville, LA, and Colorado, the Preds were the worst possible match up for Chicago because of their grinding, defensive Barry Trotz style hockey.

  43. TimTheBone says:

    first of all… justbecause a certain player plays in the NHL doesnt mean he is instantly exempt from prospect status… a player can remain a "prospect" for a few years of decent NHL experience and ice time…

    Also your prospects became players because of the job Burke did to offload all the crap on your team… you need to fill empty roster slots to finish the season… so you bring up your minor leaguers/prospects…. but again, that doesnt make the NHLers just yet

    Hell even as much as Cam and Josh and others think Caputi is a lock on the roster next year… im still not so convinced his spot is set in stone…. it all hinges on his training camp and what acquisitions are made in the offseason…. i mean realistically….here's your concrete line-up for next year as i see it

    Kessel Bozak Kulemin
    Lundmark Grabovski ________
    Sjostrom Mitchell ________
    Orr Primeau Wallin

    Now in my eyes i see two empty spots by looking at the roster as it stands…. you have Stalberg Caputi Hanson Kadri… then also guys like hayes d'amigo didomenico brent stefanovich also legitimatly competing for a roster spot…. Then you have to include possible trades into the discussion because im almost positive Burke will want to try and pick up a couple journeyman players and maybe a possible top 6 line guy to add some scoring or play making…. So with guys like Mitchell Grabo Wallin Primeau all possibly tradable, you never know how many more spots may or may not open up…. This is way i see Caputi not being a full time NHLer next year

  44. TimTheBone says:

    And this is directed at Cam…. im not trying to take a stab at you as this may come off as it… but you know what really grinds my gears…. is your thoughts on T.Os prospects… you always seem to speak like every player is just so sick and his development is going to be great and he'll be a top 4 guy for sure!.. or a top 6 guy for sure!…. i'm just saying that not even a handful of these guys will ever make an impact at the Pro level…. you have to think maybe 2 guys from each team take that step each year… thats averaging it out…. and each year ten more guys are added to each teams pool…. i mean you look 2 years ago at MTLs pool of kids and everything was looking AMAZING…. i could name ten guys who i thought would be SICK players in a year or two……. maybe two guys made the NHL….

    I realize its exciting thinking about such a deep pool of prospects and the possibilities…. but raise of hands around the Leafs room…

    WHO REMEMBERS LONNY BOHONAS????…… im just saying

  45. TimTheBone says:

    Chicago is going nowhere…. wont make it out of the first round and even if they did theyd get mauled in the second….

    Ovechkin is just the purest goal scorer to ever play the game…. i dont understand how someone can have that good of an ability to shoot a puck

  46. Magleaf says:

    Lundmark, Primeau, and wallin would need to be resigned
    theres a lot more empty slots then that

  47. leafy says:

    If they can make it past Nashville, Chicago will be in the Stanley Cup Final. You can take that to the bank.

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